Doctors Can Change Opioid Prescribing Habits, But Progress Comes in Small Doses

August 14, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – When they started practicing medicine, most surgeons say, there was little or no information about just how many pain pills patients needed after specific procedures. As a result, patients often were sent home with the equivalent of handfuls of powerful and addictive medications. Then the opioid crisis hit, along with studies showing one possible side effect of surgery is long-term dependence on pain pills. These findings prompted some medical centers and groups of physicians to establish surgery-specific guidelines. But questions remained: Would anyone pay attention to the guidelines and would smaller amounts be sufficient to control patients’ pain?